Matson on Music
Top 40 of 2012, Seattle and beyond
Seattle area pop music had a world-class year in 2012. Our hip-hop scene remained on fire, rock resurged and electronic music hung over everything like a fog. The big story was Capitol Hill rapper Macklemore, who shot to national/international fame with his October album "The Heist," which hovered around the top of the (iTunes) charts on the strength of songs about gay marriage and thrift shops. He didn't make my top ten. But he's in my top 40.
Frank Ocean, "Channel Orange"
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Ocean wrote musically fluid R&B songs on "Channel Orange" that had a moonlike pull, and nuanced storytelling. Fun fact: Bellingham native Malay produced almost all of them.
THEESatisfaction, "awE naturalE"
Clearly inspired by '70s/'80s soul/jazz but with a digital approach, local duo THEESatisfaction self-produced, sang and rapped a powerful, concise album.
Damien Jurado, "Maraqopa"
The godfather of Seattle's neo-folk movement swerved to the psychedelic side in 2012. His album was stately and spacey.
Naomi Punk, "The Feeling"
All hail the Pacific Northwest rock 'n' roll record of the year: brutal/elegant/ghostly tunes with zero machismo and pulverizing arrangements.
Kendrick Lamar, "good kid, M.A.A.D. City"
A tour de force of rapping/songwriting from a young Compton emcee with a huge heart, and a good ear.
Gucci Mane, "Trap Back"
Legally troubled rapper and self-proclaimed "king of East Atlanta" Gucci Mane tatooed an ice cream cone on his face and went to rehab. Then he released a brilliant street-rap album, with a gothic/gaudy sound everybody copied. So who's crazy now?
Burial, "Street Halo / Kindred" EPs
Like an everlasting coal in the ashes of electronic dance music, South London producer Burial just keeps producing heat, mastering the art of using vocal samples like shadows and drums like subway echoes.
British ambient/techno producer Actress continued his romance with white noise on "RIP," shading his music into a sibilant singularity.
Tame Impala, "Lonerism"
Sorry for the shorthand, but if you ever wanted trippy-Beatles music with florid drums and a Krautrock influence, here's your dream record. Thank you, Australia.
Flying Lotus, "Until the Quiet Comes"
As hip-hop regains its vision for the future (last held strongly around the turn of the millennium), Los Angeles' Flying Lotus is at the fore, making cosmic, electronic music that slides and slaps.
Giorgio Momurda "Paintings Vol. 2"
Chromatics "Kill For Love"
The xx "Coexist"
Sleigh Bells "Reign of Terror"
Killer Mike "R.A.P. Music"
Stephanie "One Glove"
Lil B "White Flame"
The Jacka "DJ Fresh Presents the Tonight Show with The Jacka"
Metro Zu "Mink Rug"
Jarv Dee "Dopamine"
Macklemore "The Heist"
Chimurenga Renaissance "Pungwe Mixtape"
Chief Keef "Finally Rich"
Grave Babies "Gothdammit" EP
Erik Blood "Touch Screens"
OC Notes "Moldavite / Pre Future Post Modern Love Songs"
Chastity Belt "[explicit] Chastity Belt"
Nacho Picasso "Exalted / Black Narcissus"
Rustie "Essential Mix"
Kingdom Crumbs "Kingdom Crumbs"
Keyboard Kid "Based Treasure"
Nicki Minaj "Roman Reloaded"
Key Nyata "Two Phonkey"
Kung Foo Grip "Indigo Children Tales from the Otha Side"
The Physics "Tomorrow People"
Main Attrakionz "Bossalinis and Fooliyones"
Video of the Year
"Until the Quiet Comes" by Flying Lotus (dir. Khalil Joseph) tied with "Sparkles/Recollections of the Wraith" by Shabazz Palaces (dir. Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes) tied with Frank Ocean on SNL
Producer of the Year
Erik Blood (Stephanie, Crypts, THEESatisfaction, Erik Blood)
New Artist of the Year
Pussy Riot tied with Chief Keef
Music Article of the Year
"Earl Sweatshirt is Back From the Wildnerness" (The New York Times/Jon Caramanica)
Anticipated for 2013
Shabazz Palaces album
Earl Sweatshirt album
Arthur Russell Simmons album/mixtape
Danny Brown "ODB"